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i found this on the gentoo wiki. it isnt argueing for or against either distro, it just shows how to do similar things in each for people that like to try different distros (like me). please excuse all the 'edit' tags, it is copied from a wiki.
Reverse dependencies are a major drawback of Gentoo's current portage implementation: It does not take care of them at all at the moment. This means that you can uninstall packages needed by others without being warned about it. E.g. you can remove the x server package without portage warning you that kde (which you have installed as well) depends on it. This way you can actually break your entire system (e.g. by removing glibc).
revdep-rebuild can fix broken dependencies broken by emerge --depclean.
In Debian, reverse dependencies are taken care of by dpkg.  Runlevel & Initscripts
Runlevels work pretty conventionally on Debian. On Gentoo, they are a bit different.  Directories and files
In Debian runlevels are named conventionally (0-6 and S). They are represented by directories in /etc/ called rc*.d.
In Gentoo, runlevels have the same names, but these are mapped to more self explanatory ones (in /etc/inittab): "boot", "default", "nonetwork", with the option to add more. The directories that represent them are in /etc/runlevels/:
In Gentoo, if a service is not explicitly started in a runlevel, it is stopped when switching to that runlevel! There is no explicit stopping of runlevels as in Debian (/etc/rc?.d/K??service).
In both Debian and Gentoo, which things are started (and stopped) in which runlevels is controlled by links in the runlevel directories to scripts in /etc/init.d/, e.g.: Code: gentoo $ ls -l /etc/runlevels/boot/hostname
 Config Files  /etc/make.conf and use flags
While in gentoo there are a large number of configuration files which exist to control the behaviour of the package management system, there are comparatively fewer in Debian, as there is no need to dictate how to compile software which is downloaded and tweak / alter this purpose. In gentoo, the file /etc/make.conf is used for much configuration; this includes USE flags, which influence which elements of packages are compiled, and which libraries to build support for - common USE flags (USE or -USE to specifically negate support) include 'gtk gnome' for gnome users (and a corresponding -qt -kde -arts) and 'qt kde arts' for kde users. A gentoo user's complete set of use flags may look something like this:
USE="-kde -arts -qt xv truetype bluetooth crypt slang readline gpm berkdb mmx gdbm tcpd pam libwww ssl nls ethereal perl python esd gif imlib sdl oggvorbis mpeg gnome gtk X motif opengl avi png tiff nptl pcmcia nptl ldap eds"  arch and repositories
Also in /etc/make.conf is the ACCEPT_KEYWORDS setting, with (for an X86-based processor) two settings, x86 for stabler packages, and ~x86 for bleeding edge packages. In debian, setting this is slightly more complicated, and is accomplished by setting different 'repositories' in /etc/apt/sources.list - along with which 'tree' to use for packages; in debian, these are stable, testing, and unstable. An /etc/apt/sources.list file for a debian testing user may look something like this:
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